September 9, 2013

This is our regular column called Ask a Brazilian”, the idea being that you can quite literally ask a question of a Brazilian – for those issues you aren’t sure about but perhaps dare not ask someone else. It is meant as a bit of fun and answers should not be construed as expert opinion or the definitive reply on the matter. For that reason we ask you to please send your own comments and experiences in order to add to our replies.

Hello, I am a Muslim university student from Canada, and I plan on doing an exchange program in Brazil in the coming summer of 2014. Since I’m muslim, I do wear the hijab (religious head scarf). My question to you is, what do the brazilians think of a woman who covers her hair, and if its going to be a problem. Will I be safe walking around?

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope to hear from you soon!

— Hodan

There is no need to worry about wearing a hijab in Brazil, the only possible hassle is maybe coming on Summer, as it can get very hot in some regions.

Just like Canada, Brazil is a melting pot, famous for its people’s diversity and freedom of religion. Especially if you go to Bahia or anywhere close to the amazon jungle, where the array of churches and beliefs is vast.

As any other country in the American Continent, we had massive waves of immigration, mostly from Portugal, Italy, Japan and Africa (all over). But unlike Canada, the people tend to amalgamate very easily, given the friendly and open atmosphere of the country. Thus Religious syncretism is very common all around and it’s actually easy to see Catholic elements (like the Holy Mother) mixed with African Gods in the same religion, being worshiped together. From an anthropological perspective this type of religious practice is commom when different civilizations merge or live closely together.

The important thing is that people respect each other very much in all states of Brazil. Racism is something very much lighter when compared to Canada or especially the USA and Brazilian people are friendly regardless of your beliefs. By the way, the hijab can be seen as something intriguing here and people will certainly start a conversation with you all the time.

Welcome to Brazil!

Rodrigo

Our Brazilian-You-Can-Ask is Rodrigo, the Academic Director of Wikipedia’s article on Islam in Brazil.) You would be targeted not for religious beliefs but as a tourist.

as we have seen heavier levels of immigration. A hijab does not stand out as much as it would in Brazil.
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